Attendance: 11, 858
Doncaster Rovers continued their hoodoo over Derby County with a 2-1 victory at the Keepmoat Stadium that saw Nigel Clough`s side fall to their second defeat on the road in a week and get dragged back towards the relegation places. Goals from Billy Sharp and a fine second half strike from Jay Emmnuel-Thomas gave Rovers a two goal lead with Rob Hulse hitting a quick fire reply but his side couldn`t find an equaliser despite throwing on David Martin and Chris Porter in a number of attacking changes towards the end of the game. The Rams piled on the pressure in the last ten minutes but couldn`t carve out a chance of any significance as Doncaster claimed the three points to do the double over them for the second season in a row.
David Martin came in for his Derby debut after signing on loan from Liverpool on Friday in place of the injured Stephen Bywater and suspended Saul Deeney and Steve Davies also came in for his first start since the FA Cup clash with Rovers at Pride Park in mid-January. The game got off to a quiet start with neither side putting together any moves of note until Jake Buxton was adjudged to have hauled down Billy Sharp in the area on thirteen minutes and the on loan Sheffield United striker picked himself up to crash home the resulting spot kick for his fifteenth goal of the season. David Martin was then called upon to make his first save of the afternoon when he kept out James Hayter`s effort from outside of the area two minutes later as Doncaster looked to push further ahead.
The Rams` first chance came just after the halfway point of the first half when Jay McEveley and Stephen Pearson combined well down the left to feed Steve Davies inside the area but his shot on the turn was blocked before it reached Neil Sullivan in the home goal. Paul Green was next to threaten when he burst into the area but his low drive crashed back off the post with Sullivan beaten and the ball was hacked to safety. Chances were still few and far between and goal scorer Sharp had the last effort of the half when he hit a volley from just inside the area but it was straight at Martin who saved with ease.
Gilles Sunu was introduced after the break in place of Steve Davies with a slight change of shape for The Rams as he lined up on the right side of midfield and Michael Tonge pushed further forward to play just of Rob Hulse through the middle. Derby began the second period on the front foot and only a last ditch interception by James O`Connor stopped Stephen Pearson`s cross finding an unmarked Rob Hulse in the area. James Hayter was next to threaten when the ball dropped to him twelve yards out but he volleyed over the top when he really should have scored.
Robbie Savage made way for the other David Martin just after the hour mark as Derby looked for a way back into the match but it was Doncaster who came closest to adding to the scoring when John Oster beat David Martin with a low drive but his shot flew just wide of the mark. Within a minute Rovers did double the lead though when Jay Emmnuel-Thomas was given too much time and space on the edge of the box and his effort from the edge of the area flew into the top corner giving Martin no chance.
Rob Hulse gave Derby a lifeline five minutes later when he turned neatly in the area and drove home a low effort for his eleventh goal of the season to put the game back in the balance with quarter of an hour remaining. Nigel Clough made another attacking change with ten minutes on the clock when he introduced Chris Porter in place of Jake Buxton as The Rams looked for the equaliser. The play was all one way in the closing stages but despite dominating possession and five minutes of added time they couldn`t breach the home defence again and fell to their second defeat in a week leaving them only four points clear of the drop zone.